Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

National research on problem gambling

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today said vital research to help problem gamblers would be undertaken following the signing of an historic agreement between the Australian Government, States and Territories.

The signing by all Members of the Ministerial Council on Gambling marked the start of the independent National Gambling Research Program that will provide vital information in areas where there was little research to date, she said.

Senator Patterson said: “This information will be used to develop future strategies to help problem gamblers and to provide effective early intervention and prevention measures for those at risk.

“Under the five-year agreement, $1 million a year will be made available for research with the Australian Government contributing $300,000 each year.

“It is important that we have a national research program to find out what works and what does not to deal with the critical issue of problem gambling.”

The program will focus on six key areas:

  • definitions of problem gambling and data collection;
  • impact of changes to gaming machines;
  • early intervention and prevention strategies;
  • profiles of problem gamblers;
  • effectiveness of harm minimisation strategies; and
  • gambling in rural, remote and indigenous communities.

Senator Patterson said: “As the research progresses, we will have a better understanding of the numbers of gamblers, what responses work with problem gamblers and how we can minimise the damage to families as a result of problem gambling.

“Problem gamblers make up just two per cent of the adult Australian population. However, they account for one third of total gambling expenditure of $15 billion a year.

“Problem gambling behaviour can have devastating consequences for individuals, families and communities and often leads to family breakdown, financial crisis, depression, homelessness, suicide and crime.

“The State and Territory Governments have the main responsibility in regulating gambling. The Australian Government is willing to take a lead in co-ordinating a national approach to a major social issue.

“It is hoped that the new research will help all governments to make decisions to tackle the negative social impacts of problem gambling which are a significant issue in this country.”